Tattoos

(December 17, 2005)

Last night, I dreamed of tattoos. My chest was a network of designs - at first, when I looked down, I could see only two, a pair of sedate faces crowning the upper reaches of my breasts. But as I lifted my shirt to examine the situation further, it became clear that I was a mess of ink and colour: dozens of patterns, spread apparently at random, with splashes of blue, red, yellow, and black. Some were gaudy, some were tragic, and none of them left any more than the tiniest stretch of natural skin from shoulder to shoulder and collarbone to nipple.

Oh, my god, I wailed quietly to myself, trying not to disturb those around me. (I was out in public, though I can't remember the setting.) Why did I... how could I... I thought and thought, but could call up only the faintest memories of the process; no pain and no scabbing, just a sense of giving myself over to what seemed like a perfect idea.

I imagined myself in a bathing suit, a tube top, a wedding dress; each one looked ridiculous in my mind, destroyed by this misguided art. Why didn't I just get Coyote on my shoulder, like I'd planned? Craning around, I realized my back was bare, lacking the single tattoo I actually wanted. There was no resolution, just thorough regret and despair, and complete horror at the idea that someday I'd be middle-aged and pointlessly colourful. Who wants used goods that look like a page torn out of a rain-soaked comic book?